Lifeboat aids racing yacht from Belgium 'stuck fast' on sandbank

The Lowestoft lifeboat crew ready to throw a towline to the stranded Belgian yacht.

The Lowestoft lifeboat crew ready to throw a towline to the stranded Belgian yacht. - Credit: RNLI

A stranded racing yacht from Belgium had to be freed by a lifeboat crew after becoming stuck on a sandbank.

The volunteer crew of Lowestoft RNLI lifeboat Patsy Knight was called out at 9.40pm on Monday evening (June 6) to assist the Belgian yacht that had run aground a mile from shore off the Suffolk coast.

It was the second call-out in a week assisting a Belgian yacht that had got in difficulties for the Patsy Knight lifeboat.

It comes after the lifeboat had responded just after 6.30pm on Monday, May 30 to a mayday call that a woman needed rescuing from the sea following an accident aboard a 12-metre yacht, from Belgium.

Last night, Lowestoft Lifeboat responded to a 14-metre racing yacht that was in difficulties east of the Stanford channel on the south end of the Holm Sand in Lowestoft, not far from the pier head.

The stranded Belgian yacht.

The stranded Belgian yacht. - Credit: RNLI

Lifeboat coxswain John Fox said: "When we arrived at the 14-metre racing yacht it was stuck fast on the sandbank.

"We checked on the condition of the two people on board and they said they were well but said that as they neared the port their vessel had then run onto the sandbank at low tide.

"They said their attempts to move water ballast to free the yacht had not been successful and whilst using their engine to try to move off the sand it had overheated and failed."

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The lifeboat crew agreed the safest action was to connect a towline to try to help by easing the vessel into deeper water.

Mr Fox said: "Our crew threw a line to the yacht but initial attempts to pull the vessel from the sand were unsuccessful.

"The yacht was constructed of aluminium, and we had to be careful not to exert too much pulling power that might damage the craft.

"The sailing yacht had a three-metre draft with a heavy three-tonne bulbous keel."

So after waiting by the yacht for the water to rise further, Mr Fox said: "By 11.30pm there was sufficient water, and the yacht was eventually eased from its stranded position".

It was towed into the RNSYC marina arriving just after midnight.

The yacht had left Nieuwpoort in Belgium on Monday morning, heading for Lowestoft at the start of a three-week trip to the UK and was nearing her destination when the grounding happened.

The skipper intends to have the yacht lifted from the water in Lowestoft to inspect the keel before continuing their trip.